Page 3197 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 24 August 2005

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The final question I would briefly put is this: in what way would anything be served by the repeated call by the Liberal opposition for the Attorney-General to stand aside? What does that serve? What purpose does that serve, except to say that it is about political one-upmanship, about making a political point? It in no way impacts on the ability of the coroner to complete her inquiry; it in no way impacts on the ongoing activities in relation to that inquiry. It simply makes a political point.

So do not come into this place and suggest that this is about ensuring that the coronial inquiry can finish without hindrance or interference. There has been no hindrance; there has been no interference. At all stages the Attorney-General has behaved in a way consistent with the best possible advice made available to him, with no agenda except to ensure that the coronial process is above board, thorough and a detailed investigation into the issues that have arisen.

Mr Stanhope’s amendment is the real issue that this Assembly should be considering today: the continued political campaign run by those opposite, not in the interests of the community but in the interests of their own political advancement.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella—Leader of the Opposition) (5.51): We have heard from the last two speakers the spin away from what it is that we are actually here to discuss today. Neither of them makes any mention, or they make little mention, of what it is that Mr Stefaniak has moved. We had the traditional invective from Mr Quinlan when he has got nothing better to say: “It is just grubby,” like that is an excuse. “It is just grubby.” We got from Mr Corbell words that in the main bear no relation to this motion.

I want to put it to the people: why are we here? We are here to discuss an issue about the separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary because somebody raised those issues in a public gathering. Who was it that raised those issues? It was the Chief Justice. The Chief Justice himself said, in front of a group of people being admitted to the Supreme Court:

It does seem, however, that the importance of the doctrine of the separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary are under threat.

He could have stopped there, but he did not. He goes on and makes the link when he says:

Indeed, as my brother Crispin, sister Bennett and I commented upon in our recent judgement in relation to allegations of bias by Coroner Doogan—

And he goes on with a quote from Fingleton v Christian Ivanoff Pty Ltd. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the ACT makes the link; knowingly goes out of his way; makes a public speech; issues that speech that connects his fears over the importance of the doctrines of separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary being under threat in the case that he has recently offered a decision in with regard to allegations of bias by Coroner Doogan. We do not have to make it; it is there; it is there in the words of the Chief Justice.

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